With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I wanted to share my story of motherhood… an unexpected journey that took me from 0-5 kids in 5 years.

Whenever I go out with my kids, strangers often state: “You must have always dreamed of having a big family!” The answer is self-evident, isn’t it?  Otherwise, why would a person choose to have 5 young children in only 5 short years? Here is my answer, although it often leaves listeners in disbelief.

The year was 1997—17 years ago–when my boyfriend (now husband) and I had a serious discussion about our future goals and aspirations.  You know, “that” conversation in which each states that they had always wanted to have 2 sons wearing matching baseball hats, or 3 giggling girls in party dresses, or even a singleton upon whom to lavish all of the attention.

I allowed my husband–an only child—to go first. He started by exclaiming that he would love to have 2 children in the future. I turned as white as a ghost and felt quite mortified! The words that I was about to speak would surely break the two of us apart, and put an end to our relationship! Any guesses on what I was about to say to him? Chances are you cannot!

Taking a deep breath, I admitted to my boyfriend that I had always planned on remaining childless!  As if that wasn’t enough to put a damper in his plans, I stated that if he had wished to have any children, then he should seek another girlfriend—as I had chosen to never bare children!  My boyfriend’s mouth stood agape for a moment. His countenance was one of complete surprise. But then reason took hold of him, and he tried to reach a compromise.

My boyfriend then stated that he would also be delighted to have just one child. As an only child himself, he had always dreamed of having a sister or brother–but he could be appeased with one lone child. He held his breath, hoping I would be assuaged.

But we did not see eye to eye, and I had the heart-wrenching task of telling my boyfriend that I did not ever want to have kids–not even the one child who would be his “compromise”. A deafening silence filled the room. But young love was optimistic, and we stayed together with unwavering devotion.  My boyfriend conceded and came to terms with our childless future.

Fast-forward many years. Our careers were thriving. We purchased a resale home with our earnings. We welcomed a large Newfoundland Dog into our hearts, who was to be the child that we would never have. Time continued to march on. We were engaged, and then married. I badly wanted to buy a second dog—a dashed—that I would call Rusty.  My husband vetoed the second dog.

It was a busy day at work when I received a simple e-mail from my husband. I clicked it open, and was greeted by a photo of newborn twins. The message was straight to the point: “Which one do you like better?” About 3 years passed and my inbox received a handful of similar messages over that timeframe. My husband was never overbearing, but always nudged me toward the idea of having “only one” child.

One day out of the blue my husband blurted out: “Oh, come on!  You’d make a great mother!”

Somehow, although I never changed my mind, I agreed to have “only one” child. Although I was still firm that I did not want any kids, it saddened me to deny my husband of having the child he so dreamed of. It was my wish to make my husband happy that caused me to take a leap of faith.

3 months later I was pregnant.  As I lay on the small bed in Labour and Delivery awaiting the arrival of our first child, it hit me forcefully that I had made a terrible mistake. My mind was still closed to having a child—then why had I ever agreed?

My son arrived without my agreement. He was so hungry that he kept on slapping me to feed him.  What nerve!, I thought!  The whole family rejoiced for his arrival and thought he was adorable. When exactly did it happen?, I’m not sure, but I started loving having our son too.

Having my son was such a blast, that just 5 little months later I was pregnant with our only daughter. The tables turned when I told my husband that I even wanted to have a third child–and with surprise he agreed.  Our second son was born just 20 months after our daughter’s birth.

Picture this: I had to really convince my husband for us to have a fourth child.  Although he thought I was slightly off my rocker, he finally agreed. Exactly 12 months later, our third son (and fourth child) arrived.

But there was a road block: my husband absolutely refused to have a fifth child. I just could not understand!  After pursuing me for so long and so hard to have “only one” child, how could he deny me of having “only one” more? Candidly, it was a very trying time in our marriage, as it felt like an (unborn) family member was missing.

Imagine my delight when my husband agreed to have a fifth—and last—child. Though, he did make me solemnly promise that if we were to have a fifth child, that there would never be a sixth, seventh or eighth! My husband was being reasonable: he just wanted each of our children to have precious one-on-one attention, and did not wish to spread himself too thin. Needless to say, I respected his logic and agreed.  15 months later our fifth—and last—child was born (our fourth son).

So, that is the story of how this once “childless” couple went from 0 to 5 kids in five years!  It really was all about trust and taking a first leap of faith, in order to open my heart to having children—and growing our beautiful family!


Jenna Em is the mom of 5 great kids, ages 3- to 8-years old!  She’s a Huffington Post writer and popular Canadian blogger at www.snymed.com